PST Files: How to Detect, Gather and Centralise .pst Files on Your Network & Make Informed Decisions Prior to a Cloud Migration

There are numerous challenges around handling large PST estates. PST files contain sensitive data and are easily hidden on your enterprise network, across devices in different locations, posing a threat to security, compliance and data governance.

If you’re considering a cloud migration, like moving to Microsoft 365, then you need to get a handle on PSTs and address the problem head-on. The ability to make informed decisions about them is critical.

The first job is to track down all PST files across your network, including all users and devices. With the right software and support, you can audit the PST files and plan accordingly.

In this article, we take a look at the threats posed by PSTs, and the power of our PST Insight software to help you locate, audit, and make decisions to improve your processes.

What are PST files?

PST files are a type of data file created by Microsoft Outlook that contain email messages and other information. These files are saved onto a computer, freeing up storage space in the mailbox on a mail server. The items are only available on the computer where the .pst file is saved.

With a POP account, all email messages are saved in this way. In Outlook 2013 and earlier versions, IMAP accounts also used .pst. Sometimes .pst files are also used to backup or export items from any type of email account.

What is the purpose of a PST file?

PST files were originally intended to provide offline/disconnected storage for email users. However, the use of PST files as an email storage overflow area under the control of end users, however, has become standard practice.

Where are PST files located?

PSTs by default are written to the local drive. However, users can then create and copy PSTs anywhere on the ‘c:’ drive, as well to other partitioned drives, USB sticks, and external hard drives. Users may even take the files home, and they often exist in non-backed up drives. Essentially, PST files can be spread far and wide in an enterprise network.

They are also pretty good at remaining hidden, posing a challenge for your enterprise.

The Danger of PST Files

PSTs represent hidden and potentially dangerous data that can be littered across your enterprise’s network. They are open to security breaches, data theft, regulatory violations as well as presenting more practical issues. Even those that aren’t dangerous can slow down e-Discovery, increase data management costs and become corrupted, especially as the file size increases.

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